Wednesday, February 3, 2010

ND Professors Discuss Happiness and Liberal Policies

Lefty's Recommendation: Happiness, Economics and Politics
Amitava Krishna Dutt and Benjamin Radcliff

Today I found an interesting article about a new book that suggests liberal public policy contributes to higher overall happiness levels. You can find a description of the book here. It was edited by one of my former professors at Notre Dame, Benjamin Radcliff, and his colleague, Amitava Dutt. Radcliff is a very interesting professor that taught a Marxist critique of American politics course my freshman year. I would recommend checking this out at a library when it is available because of its expensive price.

I've seen many articles on subjective happiness levels (usually using surveys), such as this one, but I haven't really dug into something as deep as this book, which includes much more in-depth research from many disciplines. I wanted to know what our readers at Lefty's think about these questions:

What kinds of policies contribute to overall higher happiness? 

If not public policy, then what factors likely affect self-reported happiness levels the most?



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1 comment:

Gregory said...

Dutt is cool. I had him for a senior econ seminar. He's a contrarian, often arguing against the neo-classical mainstream. I tend to be on his right most of the time, but he's a very smart man with great intelligence and incredibly broad research interests (macro, happiness, poverty, political economy,development, etc.)

Definitely worth reading and thinking about his ideas.

As for Henry's questions:

1) A bit broad. I'm open to the idea that laissez-faire might not lead to the greatest amount of happiness. But I would caution against short-sightedness. It's possible that some social welfare policies could reduce welfare in the long run by creating dependency or deficits or whatever.

2) Families are important. Religion. Various intermediary institutions have a role to play: churches, universities, social clubs, charitable organizations, etc.